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UCLA explains dim sum

The United Chinese Language Association celebrated Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with “Dim Sum to Win Some” on April 17 to showcase iconic food in Chinese culture.

“Dim Sum to Win Some” started off with the history of dim sum and its etiquette, then moving on to explain different and complementary teas. The event ended with dim sum bingo games.

Dim sum is a small, bite-size piece of food that is served in a bamboo steamer and typically served for breakfast, lunch or brunch as a group meal. Dim sum is called “yum cha” in Cantonese. The food originates from the southern region of China and has evolved to become a vital part of Chinese cuisine.

Dim sum etiquette includes pouring tea for everyone else first, tapping the table with one’s index and middle fingers as a sign of gradtitude after ebing poured tea, refraining from pointing at people with chopsticks, avoiding digging around the dim sum for a good piece of food, leaving the teapot open for a refill, fighting to pay the bill and most importantly, sharing.

Dim sum varies from steamed dishes such as buns and rice noodles to fried or baked dishes. Some examples include shrimp dumplings, steamed pork ribs, soup dumplings, lotus paste buns, spring rolls and shrimp rice noodles.

Tea is the ideal beverage to be paired with dim sum because it clears the taste buds and allows people to experience different flavors. People often drink Dragon Well tea, which has a grassy and refreshing taste, or chrysanthemum tea, which has a flowery, sweet and light taste.

President of UCLA Lewis Diep explained that dim sum became a staple of Chinese culture because most Chinese immigrants who moved to the United States started working in the food industry, which gave them the opportunity to interact with others despite a language barrier.

“That’s one way where we communicate with foreigners — through food — people would just start eating and from there we start the conversation,” Diep said. “Even though it’s about food, we can branch off to politics.”

Diep said dim sum brings everyone together and UCLA wanted to share that sense of community with Baruch College students. “We want everyone to feel like they are a part of the family and through this event, hopefully, people can see that Baruch has that aspect of us wanting to bond together and just having a good time,” Diep said.

Sophomore Melissa Ha said she is neither fluent in Chinese, nor very familiar with her culture, but she learned more over the course of the event. “I did learn things I didn’t know,” Ha said. “There are many people who are like me that aren’t very familiar with their background and I think it’s good to keep in touch with your culture and background.”

Senior Rachel Liu, who led the event presentation, emphasized that many people forget their traditions and that she wants to change that.

“There are a lot of American-born-Chinese and they don’t really touch upon the Chinese culture,” Liu said. “I want to be the one to inform them of the older times to let them know what people did in the past.”

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